CoPOWER

Government of Life and Death: The Rise of Coercive Power in European Late Prehistory


CoPOWER adopts state-of-the-art archaeological and bioarchaeological approaches to investigate the transition to urban society and the rise of increasingly sophisticated social control mechanisms in Europe, c. 2000-500 BC.

Many projects have investigated social complexity and urbanization in later prehistory by focusing on the elite groups that supposedly coordinated these processes. By contrast, CoPOWER explores the life-histories of the marginal individuals that are often the forgotten protagonists of human history. Such people may include those who were socially excluded for their low status, gender, disease or disability; children dying of starvation; people subject to forced labour and undernourishment; women and infants that did not survive pregnancy and childbirth with malnutrition and poor living conditions as precipitating causative factors, and the victims of extreme violence and abuse.

In order to develop more nuanced understandings of major socio-cultural transformations in history, one of the greatest challenges is to identify such individuals in the archaeological record of any given society. In this regard, CoPOWER primarily focuses on funerary data, as the latter provides exceptional first-hand relevant information not easily recognizable from other archaeological sources.

CoPOWER will complement traditional archaeological methods such as human osteology with the results of cutting-edge medical research on trauma, nutrition and gene-environment interactions. These methodologies will be integrated within the framework of a “biocultural” approach that considers the role of both social and biological processes in determining the development of the human body.

Overall, CoPOWER takes late prehistoric Europe c. 2000-500 BC as a case study to reflect on the socio-political and environmental conditions that favour the spread of social control and inequality in any human society. It also aims to promote a more nuanced understanding of social exclusion by considering it as the product of complex and interrelated socio-political, environmental and biological factors.

Collaboration with Dr Katharina Rebay-Salisbury and her ERC-funded project The Value of Mothers to Society (VAMOS) will also help address whether gender- and age-based forms of inequality emerged at the dawn of urban society in Europe, and to what extent these can be identified via archaeological and bioarchaeological analysis. Through this collaboration, CoPOWER will consider the possible effects of social change or instability in c. 2000-500 BC Europe on motherhood, childbirth and infancy, with a focus on osteological cases pointing, for example, to maternal and neonatal malnutrition, or child neglect and abuse.

Publications

Publikationen

  • E. Perego – R. Scopacasa – S. Amicone (eds), Collapse or Survival? Micro-dynamics of Crisis, Change and Socio-political Endurance in the Late Prehistoric and Early Roman Central Mediterranean. Oxford, Oxbow (in press).
  • E. Perego – R. Scopacasa – S. Amicone, Collapse or survival? Crisis and social change in the ancient Mediterranean. In: E. Perego – R. Scopacasa – S. Amicone (eds), Collapse or Survival? Micro-dynamics of Crisis, Change and Socio-political Endurance in the Late Prehistoric and Early Roman Central Mediterranean. Oxford, Oxbow (in press).
  • E. Perego – R. Scopacasa – S. Amicone, Micro-dynamics of crisis following disaster events in late Bronze and Iron Age northern Italy. In: E. Perego – R. Scopacasa – S. Amicone (eds), Collapse or Survival? Micro-dynamics of Crisis, Change and Socio-political Endurance in the Late Prehistoric and Early Roman Central Mediterranean. Oxford, Oxbow (in press).
  • E. Perego – R. Scopacasa, Children and marginality in pre-Roman Samnium: a personhood-focused approach. In: J. Tabolli (ed.), From Invisible to Visible. New Methods and Data for the Archaeology of Infant and Child Burials in Pre-Roman Italy and Beyond, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 149 (Nicosia 2018) 167–176.
  • E. Perego – R. Scopacasa, The Agency of the Displaced? Roman Expansion, Environmental Forces, and the Occupation of Marginal Landscapes in Ancient Italy. Humanities 7(4), 2018, 116. doi:10.3390/h7040116

Outcomes

Outcomes

Workshops

  • E. Perego (in collaboration with V. Tamorri, R. Scopacasa, S. Amicone), Collapse and inequality: viewpoints from later prehistory (23–24.5.2018: OREA / ÖAW, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, Disability in late Prehistory. Concepts, methods and Ethics (11.9.2018: OREA / ÖAW, Vienna, with funding by the ÖAW Grant Service)
  • E. Perego, #SilentNightScience. Discussing the marginalisation of diverse voices in archaeological research (17.12.2018: TAG Deva, Chester)
     

Talks

  • E. Perego, V. Tamorri, Inclusivity as a strategy for a more equitable archaeology (17.11.2017: Public Archaeology Twitter Conference)
  • V. Tamorri, E. Perego, A connected archaeology in the age of the digital transformation: Problems and perspectives (19.3.2018: Computer Application & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. #CAATCO: New forms of communications in our digital future, Tübingen)
  • E. Perego, K. Rebay-Salisbury, La costruzione dell’identità nella tarda preistoria europea: maternità, infanzia e ineguaglianza sociale (14.5.2018: Giornata di studio, ricerche e studi in Italia, Roma)
  • E. Perego, R. Scopacasa, Fluvial unpredictability and socio-political change in ancient Veneto, seventh/sixth centuries BC: methodological considerations (24.5.2018: Collapse and inequality: viewpoints from later prehistory, Vienna)
  • R. Scopacasa, E. Perego, Approaching resilience in southern Italy: rural sites in the marginal landscapes of Daunia during the Roman expansion (325–200 BC) (24.5.2018: Collapse and inequality: viewpoints from later prehistory, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, CoPOWER. Government of life and death. The rise of cohesive power in European Late Prehistory (26.6.2018: Meeting with MSCA-IF Fellows, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, R. Scopacasa, V. Tamorri, Child personhood in late prehistoric Italy. Implications from bioarchaeology, archaeothanatology and archaeological theory (21.9.2018: 11th Annual International Conference Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, Disability in late prehistory (11.9.2018: Disability in late Prehistory. Concepts, methods and Ethics, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, Spina bifida: a case study in the bio-archaeology of disability (11.9.2018: Disability in late Prehistory. Concepts, methods and Ethics, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, R. Scopacasa, Environmental stress and disability: problems and perspectives (11.9.2018: Disability in late Prehistory. Concepts, methods and Ethics, Vienna)
  • L. Zamboni, M. Saracino, V. Zanoni, E. Perego, Children of a Lesser God? Evidence of disabilities in late prehistoric Italy (11.9.2018: Disability in late Prehistory. Concepts, methods and Ethics, Vienna)
  • E. Perego, R. Scopacasa, Debating an archaeology of marginality (17.12.2018: TAG Deva, Chester)
  • E. Perego, Marginality in late Prehistoric Peri-Alpine Europe (17.12.2018: TAG Deva, Chester)
     

Posters

  • E. Perego, Inequality and social exclusion in late Prehistoric Europe (15.4.2018: #LNF 2018, Vienna)
  • V. Tamorri, E. Perego, Coffin birth or post-mortem foetal extrusion: an on-going archaeological debate (22.9.2018: 11th Annual International Conference Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past, Vienna)